Category: Living in Shanghai

Happy New Year of the Rat!

Happy New Year of the Rat!

Today is the last day in the year of the pig and tomorrow, the year of the rat begins – it’s Chinese New Year again!

After only 10 days in China I’m getting on a plane to India today for a one week trip of the Golden Triangle. Thorben is still in Germany over CNY and we’ll be both back in Shanghai in February. Until then, have a great start into the rat year πŸ™‚

2019 – Another Year in Review

2019 – Another Year in Review

I had so much fun doing my 2017 and 2018 review, so here we go again, starting with the exact same sentence:

2019: it’s been a crazy year!

January

I spent half of the month in Germany combining work and seeing friends and family, while Thorben returned to Shanghai a bit earlier. He brought some North German culture with him and hosted a GrΓΌnkohl dinner. I also finished the planning and booking for our big 2019 vacation – a long awaited trip to New Zealand.

February

Over Chinese New Year, we explored New Zealand. We spent 1 week on the North Island and 2 weeks on the South Island and went skydiving! It was a great trip, maybe my favorite one so far, and I wish I was already planning the next one.

March

March was a food month: It was restaurant week again, and I had fun eating and also making lots of food. I also started my BonApp “career” (I’m now a power user πŸ˜‰ ). My mom turned 60, so I surprised her on the morning of her birthday and spent a fun week in Germany.

April

Spring really started in April and brought beautiful weather and even more beautiful cherry blossoms which I enjoyed with friends at Gucun Park and during Thorben’s long birthday weekend. Work took me to Wuzhen Water Town, another amazing place in China. There was lots of great food as always, for example the dumplings we made at our friends’ house.

May

As usual, May was the best month of the year because it’s my birthday, which we celebrated with lots and lots of food (surprise) and great people πŸ™‚ Other highlights were my sister and Timo’s visit and a trip to Disneyland. I also started a new job in May and Thorben went on a trip to Thailand with his colleagues for their annual outing.

June

June was filled with travel: We took a trip to Kuching to celebrate Eid and see Orang Utans and I went on a business trip to Germany which I could combine with some belated birthday celebrations and a trip to the BUGA. I also said good bye to a friend with a fun food tour through Shanghai.

July

Work, dinners, brunches, birthdays, walks with Khan … July was a pretty normal Shanghai month for me. It was hot and humid, but not as bad as the 2017 summer. Thorben started a new role in July and went to Germany for business.

August

August continued with work and food and friends and fun πŸ™‚ I also tried crayfish for the first time and talked about it on TV. The month finished with restaurant week and a party at the W, neither of which I blogged about. Oops.

September

In September, I finally went to visit my sister and Timo in Singapore. We had lots of great food and I enjoyed their pool. Back in Shanghai, Jana came to visit and we did a tour of a chocolate factory and ate a lot.

October

Our Golden Week trip took us to Indonesia. A few days with Marlyn’s family in Jakarta and a week on Flores: we saw Komodo Dragons and other beautiful islands close to Labuan Bajo and explored traditional villages in Bajawa.

November

In November, I baked a lot of Christmas cookies, while Thorben was on another business trip in Germany. I took advantage of 11/11 to get started on my Christmas shopping, in preparation for the annual US trip. We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona, eating, shopping and having fun with my host family.

December

The biggest event of the year happened in December: I became an aunt! Christmas parties, cookies, dinners … December in Shanghai went by really fast and on the 19th we flew to Germany to celebrate Christmas, birthdays and spent time with friends and family.

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming

I was just about to title this post “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” and then I realized that my Christmas post last year had that exact same title. Looks like I haven’t gotten any more creative with my blogging this year πŸ™‚

Anyway, back to the actual topic: I started the Christmas season early and finished my Christmas cookies in November already because I wanted to have them ready for our US trip. It took me 2 full weekends plus a few weeknights of baking, but I’m quite proud of the result. 8 different kind is a new record for me! I still have a long way to go to reach my mom’s 17 kinds, but I’m slowly improving πŸ˜‰

Thorben went on a business trip to Germany in November and brought back some Gingerbread, Spekulatius and goodies from my mom, so we were ready to get festive. When we came back home on December 1st, all that was left to do was get some Christmas decoration and start eating all the cookies.

… which is exactly what we did on our first weekend back. We had little Advent tea at our place on December 7 and ate our way through a few plates of cookies.

Since then, there were quite a few Christmas parties or holiday themed events here: A GGI gift exchange, an Italian aperetivo, a trip to the Christmas market that turned into a Raclette and mulled wine night because there was a massive queue to get into the market, a small Christmas dinner with friends, a very big Christmas dinner with a Secret Santa and drinks afterwards, another Christmas get together with hot chocolate, games and movies and then we hosted a dinner at our place followed by cookies on Sunday.

The Christmas season in Shanghai was really fun and festive and definitely got me in the mood for more. Tonight, we’re flying to Germany for some more holiday spirit and of course to celebrate Christmas with our families!

See you in 2020, Shanghai!

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

Jana, Marina & the Chocolate Factory

There’s a Zotter chocolate factory in Shanghai – Austrian chocolate in the middle of China – who would have thought? Technically, it’s a “chocolate theater”, because they don’t really make much chocolate there, but you can learn all about chocolate and taste it until you’re sick … which is exactly what Jana and I did at the end of September.

I got 2 tickets to go to the tasting tour for my birthday and one of the dates for it lined up with Jana’s visit. Coincident? I don’t think so πŸ™‚

The tour starts with a movie about the company, its founder and how chocolate is made from bean to bar. After that, it’s 2 hours of non stop indulgence. We tasted the beans, cocoa powder, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, soy chocolate, chocolate in liquid form, in bars, with fruits mixed in, chocolate coating nuts and fruits, drinking chocolate … You name it, they had it. 150 varieties of it.

After the tour, we hit the store … and then I had to recover on the couch for a few hours.

Besides going to the chocolate factory, we also did some other stuff during Jana’s 4 days in Shanghai. Namely, have Vietnamese food, go for pancakes, have brunch, and another brunch, eat burgers, get sushi … To work it off, we also went for a walk with Khan. And then had pasta and pizza πŸ˜‰ In summary – a great Shanghai visit!

DIY Food Tour

DIY Food Tour

We just got back from our Golden Week vacation a few days ago and I’m very behind with the blogging. Spoiler: We went to Indonesia and it was great! Before I get into it (still got lots of pictures to sort), I still have a couple little things to share from before our trip.

Marlyn and I had been wanting to recreate the food tour I did in June, and we decided it was time in the middle of September when it finally got a bit cooler. We met after work at the metro, booklet from the tour in hand and ready to eat our way through China and take selfies πŸ™‚

Stop 1 – Cantonese

Our personal food tour was off to a rocky start because the planned first stop, the Xi’An Burger, had been closed down πŸ™ It didn’t get much better at the second stop – a Cantonese restaurant. They had sold out of the barbecued pork, this dish I was most excited to eat again at that place. Fail. We tried duck instead, which was okay, but not nearly as good as the pork. The pineapple bun and a mango tapioca dish were good; those cheered us up again.

Since we met around 20 min before the food tour starts, we kept seeing one of their groups. They usually came into the restaurants when we had already started eating. We made sure to hide our booklet and pretended we were just in the know about local restaurants. Not sure we succeeded πŸ˜‰

Stop 2 – Ningbo

The second stop – the Ningbo place – was much better! We got my favorite 2 dishes from the tour, fava bean puree and crispy bamboo chips. Marlyn was skeptical at first, but came around after giving it a try. The beans really taste much better than they look!

Stop 3 – Sichuan

Third stop: Sichuan Noodles, no rabbit head this time πŸ™‚

Stop 4 – Shanghai

And finally, some xiaolongbao to finish the night.

Just as we were about to call it a night, we saw the guide again. He ducked into a small bakery, telling the group “I’m just gonna buy something for later”. So obviously we went in right after he left and requested 2 of whatever he bought … which gave us our dessert πŸ™‚

To anyone who wants try food from across China: Come visit and eat with us – Marlyn and I are ready!

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

I have a new love in my life. We met in April and have been hanging out almost every week since. I think it’s getting serious.

Meet Khan.

He’s an Alaskan Malamute, 3 years old and the cutest and sweetest dog in the world. He belongs to friends of a friend, who adopted him in Shanghai about 2 years ago. We met Khan and his owners randomly at brunch one weekend and I couldn’t get enough of him. See pictures of our first encounter.

Basically, I begged our friend to give me his owners’ contact and stalked them on WeChat to please let me walk their puppy. Thankfully, they didn’t find that too creepy and actually let me πŸ™‚ I walk him almost every weekend now for 2+ hours and it’s so great to have a snuggly fluff ball in my life. He’s also good for my step count – 15.000 is not a problem – and gets me out of the house rain or shine … see Khan’s awesome raincoat below.

Like many men, he’s not a huge fan of selfies and usually tries to lick my face when I sneak up to get a picture, but I can’t resist because he’s just too damn cute!